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Best Practices for Handling “Cold Hits”

Creating an Investigative Cold Case Team

It may be that a particular jurisdiction needs a small team and another requires a much larger team. Each jurisdiction should assess the need for a separate team and assign supervisors and detectives with investigative experience, building the rest of the team to take advantage of knowledge, skills and abilities.10,11,12,13,14

For uniform case handling, there should be a single investigative point of contact for all cold cases submitted for analysis and for dealing with subsequent hits. Cold hits should be assigned to specified details (homicide, sex crimes, burglary, etc.) when those specialties are needed. Team members can bring a lot to the table. Major case experience, DNA working knowledge and knowledge of the law are invaluable for moving cold cases forward properly. Create an investigative checklist with action items and timelines for best results.

10 New Hampshire, Cold Case Unit Status Report 2010 PDF download: 2.3MB • Visit the New Hampshire Department of Justice Cold Case Unit »
11 Colorado Cold Case Task Force Annual Reports »
12 Colorado Attorney General’s Office Example of education course for peace officers in cold case units PDF download: 76kB • Visit the Colorado Cold Case Task Force »
13 Arizona, Cold Case Task Force Report (2007) PDF download: 404kB • Visit the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission Cold Case Information »
14 Hawaii, Report of the Investigations Division Cold Case Squad (2006) PDF download: 68kB • Visit the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General 2006 Reports »

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